Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Implementing Operation Husky

So, Mike and I have been cruising through our Sicily campaign these last few weeks, and I finally found some time to begin blogging the sessions.

When we last left Sicily, we had just started August, and the Allies were behind schedule. Historically, the battle of Primosole Bridge started on July 12. I didn't cross it until the Aug 1 turn, right before we took the game down. So, I've got some ground to make up.

Our sessions picked things up with the August 3 turn. Time is on the Axis side, so I need to try to be aggressive. Here's the situation at the point we restarted.

Over these last few nights, we've been getting in 2 or 2.5 turns per night.

I won the initiative on Aug 3, and went first. (This is becoming a rarity.) All barrages failed on this turn – didn't score a single DG. No variable replacements, either. I did manage to bag 3 HQs on the turn, however, though this is becoming less and less of an issue for Mike as the territory he's needing to command begins to shrink markedly as the game continues.

In the west, I'm starting to move units in on Palermo, and cleaning up the Southern Coast. In the east, I'm moving in force on Catania while holding in the center.

On the Aug 5 turn, Mike won initiative and had me go first. This is going to become a theme as Mike is determined to not allow me a potentially disastrous (for him) double turn. Again, nothing on the replacements roll.

In the east, I'm pushing harder on Catania. In the west, I've cleared the southern coast, Mike has abandoned Marsala, and Trapani's in my sights. My goal here (as Trapani is lightly garrisoned) is send the bulk of the 2nd armored division north to Palermo, but send a contingent over to take the port at Trapani.

Now it's August 7. Mike wins initiative again, I go first. Again, nothing on the replacements roll. (FWIW, I need a 7 or higher on two dice to get something.) An eventful turn this time, however. I take the first Palermo hex, Catania and Marsala. Also managed to have two tank battalions bounced by a single Italian artillery unit in Trapani. Not good. (I think the die roll was something like surprise of two columns for Mike with either snake eyes or a 3 on the combat roll. Horrendous, but still not the dreaded 4 ones and a 6.)

On to the next day. Mike (again) wins initiative, and I go first. Big replacements roll, though. Boxcars. Sorta makes up for the last three turns. Only managed minor progress in the east. Basically cleaned up the lines. In the west, I've cleaned up everything but Palermo and the handful of units there are the only Axis units in the west part of the island.

August 10 sees Mike win initiative (again) and I go first. Again. I get an equipment replacement this time. This turn began a run of highly successful barrages. If I'm not mistaken, pretty much all the barrages for the next two turns are successful. Maybe one or two that don't at least cause a DG.

This turned into an expensive turn for me. I lost five units and only killed one unit along with taking most of Palermo. There's very little left for Mike in the west, but Mike's only giving up a hex or two a turn in the East. Not fast enough for me.

August 10 also sees the beginning of the turns where Mike gains 1 VP every turn I don't take Messina. And I'm not getting there any time soon.

I guess this is a good time to talk about the victory conditions.

The Axis get 1 VP for every turn from August 10 on that the Allies haven't captured Palermo, Augusta, Syracuse, Marsala, and Messina. They also get 1 VP for every step loss of naval units they can inflict. Finally, they get VP for removing German combat units from the island on August 10 or later. They lose 7 VP if they get 12 or less off, 5 VP if 13 or 14, and it gets better for them every two units up to 7 VP for removing 40 units from the island.

10 VP = a minor Axis victory, and 13 is a major Axis victory.

Given that I'm nowhere close to Messina, the game's going to hinge on how many units Mike can get off the map while still holding me back.

OCS Technique #1

Here's a rather effective technique Mike has developed.

On the eastern half of the map, he's putting artillery units in reserve. These units are typically at their maximum range, so I can't get adjacent to them in the cramped quarters. He then waits to see what I do on my air barrages and goes after the units likely to attack any hexes where I've caused a DG result. He releases the artillery from reserve in his reaction phase and hopes to DG my attacking units. Under the circumstances, this has really slowed down my advance up the eastern coast of the island.

It's been effective because I've been unable to win initiative. If I can get a double turn, he won't be able to do this on the 2nd turn of that sequence. It doesn't work if I can DG his artillery with air barrages (since this pulls a unit out of reserve), but as those have a 3-column leftward shift due to a lack of adjacent spotters, it's not all that easy to pull off. Also, it adds more targets for the air and naval barrages, forcing me to use on-map (and supply-expensive) artillery to target the hexes I'm actually trying to attack.

More to come. Tonight (as I write this) we're entering the Allied half of the August 17 turn, and it wouldn't surprise me if we determine tonight the victory level we're going to achieve. Though I might be able to push it out another night or two.

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